How to create a great customer experience

John Jantsch | AllBusiness.com

For most small businesses, providing good service is key to building customer loyalty and brand promotion, which is usually done through marketing to someone with a particular business need.  The goal of a business is generally to get this person to know, like and trust your business. Of course, then you must turn that know, like, and trust into try, buy, repeat, and refer. It's like leading someone down a path.

To make this way of thinking work you must look at each of the seven stages listed above (know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat, and refer). You must intentionally plan products, services, processes, and touches that logically move prospects along each step in the chain.

Ultimately, you move them to the point where they become customers - and then receive such a remarkable experience that they become repeat customers and referral advocates. The goal is to turn your customers into committed partners. The best way to accomplish this end is to think about the process completely in reverse or even take a new look at your existing products from a reverse-engineering point of view.

Think of it as walking the path you want your customers to follow, except you're walking it backwards.

Many a time when a business creates a product, it develops the product and then works only on promotional efforts. But if you work backwards, the first thing to ask is, "What is the customer feeling about our product or service 180 days or so after they make the purchase?"

From there, you should work all the way back to the initial contact where they become interested in making the purchase in the first place.

The most important element in this follow-up sequence is to thrill your customer. Don't rush through the follow-up steps in the aftermath of creating a new product. If you start with a great customer experience as your number one priority, as opposed to an afterthought, you can ensure your customers will be ready to refer you at the drop of a hat.

So, a reverse-process example for a training course you're promoting might look something like this:

180 days after purchase

Customer receives free course updates and an offer to meet with a select group of other course participants in an invitation only, peer-to-peer group accountability program.

90 days after purchase

Customer receives email offering them 30 percent off any other product or service of their choice as a current-customer courtesy.

60 days after purchase

Customer receives a coupon offering a free evaluation of their progress with the training course and the opportunity to engage a consultant to help them if they are stuck working on their own.

30 days after purchase

Customer receives a coupon for a free 60 minute coaching session to help keep them on track.

14 days after purchase

Customer receives a coupon for 30 days of unlimited email support to keep them on track with their purchase.

7 days after purchase

Customer receives mailing with additional bonus materials as a way of saying thank you for their purchase.

Immediately after purchase

Upon completing a successful shopping cart transaction, the customer is directed to a Web page that hosts a welcome video or FAQ to set expectations for when and how they will receive their purchase. An automated email provides instructions and orients the customer to the contents of their new purchase and how to receive support if they have questions.

After this, the prospect is offered the opportunity to download two free chapters from the course and receive a free 30 minute coaching session to discuss their specific challenges.

Information gathering

After an informational seminar, the prospect is offered an opportunity to sign up to receive a video series of client case studies and an ebook featuring the content covered in the seminar.

Awareness

The prospect attends an informational online seminar that dives into the problems most business face when trying to do a particular activity.

This process with vary greatly depending upon your specific business or product, but it's the "start with the end in mind" thinking that is so important to put into action.

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